A doctor giving a vaccination

Mumps is a common but highly contagious childhood viral infection caused by the mumps virus. It leads to swelling of the parotid glands (which produce saliva) but can affect many different glands as well as the brain, with serious complications.

Although mumps may affect adults, children between the ages of 5-15 years are most prone. It is contagious for 1 – 2 days before the symptoms of mumps appear, to 1 – 2 days after they disappear. The incubation period is about 18 days. One attack gives lifelong immunity.

Signs and Symptoms of Mumps

  • Facial pain.
  • Swollen parotid glands in neck, temples or jaw.
  • Fever, headache and sore throat.

Mumps is uncomfortable and painful for your child. Most children go through the ordeal without any long-term effects. However, in some rare cases, children experience hearing loss.

Mumps can be prevented by administering the Mumps, Measles, Rubella (MMR) vaccine. In Singapore, children require two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first dose of MMR is given at 12 months of age and the second dose is given between 15 to 18 months of age.

As moms and dads, we want what’s best for our children. Here are 3 reasons you may want to remember to bring your child for vaccination against mumps.

#1 Inoculate Against Mumps Outbreaks

The mumps (paramyxovirus) virus is spread by coughing, sneezing and through the saliva of an infected person. It can also be spread by contact with contaminated items and surfaces.

As mumps is highly contagious, mumps outbreaks can occur in dense populations and close-knit communities. In Singapore, a routine mumps vaccination programme has resulted in a significant drop in mumps cases.

#2 Avoid the Complications of Mumps

Though complications are rare, they do occur. Here are some of the complications which you can avoid by getting vaccinated.

Orchitis

Males may experience pain or lumps in their testicles and swelling in the scrotum. This rarely causes infertility problems.

Meningoencephalitis

An infection of the central nervous system which does not cause permanent damage.

Pancreatitis

There is abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Hearing impairment

A very rare complication where hearing loss affects one or both ears. This could be permanent.

#3 The Mumps Vaccine is Safe

Mumps can be prevented by administering the Mumps, Measles, Rubella vaccine (MMR).

Some parents worry about the vaccine’s side effects. In a few cases, children experience mumps symptoms after vaccination. The MMR vaccine is safe. Getting the vaccine is safer than getting mumps, measles or rubella (German measles).

There is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

The article that was published in the Lancet many years ago by Dr Andrew Wakefield which resulted in the false belief that MMR is linked to autism was proven to be fraudulent and the article was retracted in full.

Furthermore, Dr Andrew Wakefield was struck off from the General Medical Council Register of the United Kingdom for his involvement in the scam research.

Treating Mumps

If you or your child does have mumps, you can relieve the symptoms. Paracetamol can be given to reduce fever and relieve pain.

Aspirin should not be given to children because of the risk of Reye’s Syndrome, a brain problem that develops in children who have had certain viral illnesses.

To relief pain and swelling in the parotid glands, use a combination of warm and cold compresses. Cool compresses and scrotal support can also be given to reduce pain and swelling of the testicles.

Foods such as fruit juices and tart beverages stimulate the parotid glands and this may increase the pain. Avoid giving your child these foods.

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